A recent study shows that low-intensity smokers, one cigarette per day, still have a higher risk of earlier death than never smokers. The research also shows that those who smoke between one and ten cigarettes per day have an even higher risk of death than those who smoke one cigarette per day.

The study proves that long exposure and not smoking intensity provokes cancer and cardiovascular diseases that shorten people’s lives. It used data from 290,215 older adults and analyzed how many cigarettes they smoked per day and for how long they have been doing it. The investigation was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Monday and sheds light on a less-studied topic: Smoking intensity.

More outstanding, even women who are light smokers have a more elevated risk of stroke than those who don’t smoke. Image Credit: C-Hit

A growing proportion of American smokers are now smoking fewer cigarettes per day, and it is estimated that the number of low-intensity smokers will rise in the future. Thus, research on the health effects of smoking only a few cigarettes each day is necessary, especially when there is few investigation on the subject.

Tobacco smoking is a major public health issue in the United States and around the world: Over five million people died because of smoking every year. Since efforts to raise awareness about smoking hazards and tobacco control policies, fewer people is smoking, and many have reduced their daily cigarette consumption believing fewer cigarettes per day will decrease their mortality risks.

The percentage of daily smokers who smoked fewer than ten cigarettes per day increased from 16 percent to 27 percent from 2005 to 2014. People who not smoke every day rose from 19 percent to 23 percent. The problem is that people smoking less tobacco are associated with individuals trying to quit smoking who maintain a low-intensity smoking pattern for many years.

Previous studies have found that prolonged exposure to tobacco increases the risk to suffer lung cancer and head and neck cancer and cardiovascular disease. The recent survey published online Monday adds more information to tobacco long-exposure risks because it evaluated data from a lifetime rather than a single point in the participants’ life.

The study used data from 290,215 individuals from a 2004-2005 questionnaire to assess their smoking habit consequences

The research used information collected by the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study cohort. Researchers examined the association between long-term smoking of fewer than one to ten cigarettes per day with the cause of death among current and former smokers in the database. The study also took into consideration participants that reported smoking fewer than one cigarette up to ten per day earlier in their lives.All participants were age 59 to age 82 at the start of the study.

The study found that smoking one cigarette per day exposes people to higher mortality risks than those who had never smoke. Additionally, those who smoked more than one cigarette per day have higher risks for earlier death than those who smoke one cigarette a day and never smokers.

Researchers also confirmed that quitting smoking habits benefit all smokers regardless how many cigarettes they smoked each day. Participants with earlier smoking cessation live longer than those who quit many years after they started and those who never stop smoking tobacco.

Smoking duration is substantially more important than intensity since exposure is what has been linked to lung cancer and heart diseases. Even smoking less than one cigarette per day shortens life expectancy.

Researchers at the National Cancer Institute calculated how much higher were mortality risks for long-term, low-intensity smokers

The National Cancer Institute, based on the JAMA study published today, estimated that people smoking less an average of less than one cigarette per day had a 64 percent higher risk of earlier death than never smokers. Those who smoked between one and 10 cigarettes per day had an 87 percent higher risk of earlier death than people who had never smoked.

Among the participants, people smoking one cigarette per day had nine times the risk of dying from lung cancer than never smokers compared to individuals smoking between one and ten cigarettes per day. Their risk of dying of lung cancer is 12 higher than that of never-smokers.

Previous research supports the findings in the study which include non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke. People vulnerable to tobacco smoke on the street was related to a broad spectrum of health outcomes including cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and respiratory diseases. Another study conducted in China found that women married to smokers had higher risks to suffer cardiovascular disease than women married to non-smokers.

Increasing awareness of tobacco dangers is essential to prevent deaths in the United States and lower the risks of different conditions, including cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Tobacco control policies not only protect smokers but non-smokers since there is enough evidence to prove second-hand smokers are also affected by tobacco and its generalized consumption.

Different policies have proven to be effective in changing people’s habits when it comes to smoking. Further efforts could significantly reduce tobacco consumption in America.

Source: JAMA